Mary Ann Caws is Distinguished Professor of English, French and Comparative Literature, Graduate School, City University of New York. She is the author of several books for Reaktion, including Pablo Picasso (2005), Salvador Dali (2008) and The Modern Art Cookbook (2013). Tom Conley is Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures (French) and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University.
"Caws, one of the world authorities on the international avant-garde, both in poetry and in the visual arts, here turns her attention to the life and work of a seemingly very different writer, the great seventeenth-century thinker Blaise Pascal. As she shows brilliantly, Pascal's Pens es and other writings, which she has in fact been reading and ruminating on all her life, pave the way for the avant-garde of our own century, and they anticipate in uncanny ways Wittgenstein's similarly informal ways of doing philosophy. It is the quality of Pascal's writing--his abrupt, abbreviated, aphoristic, gnomic utterance--so mysterious and yet so authoritative--that fascinates Caws, and her book is eloquent testimony to Pascal's continuing relevance today. We need Pascal--the precise logician as well as the philosopher and religious thinker--more than ever. Mary Ann Caws here gives us another beautiful book."--Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University "Mary Ann Caw's delightful commentary on the life and influence of Pascal provides a compelling, short account of the brilliant and provocative inventor, mathematician, theologian, and essayist. Caws makes each of the main events of Pascal's life and work into parables filled with awe for his protean intellect, literary style, and unshakable faith tempered by palpable empathy for his oddness, physical frailty, and piety." --Charles Bernstein, University of Pennsylvania